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Christmas shows the power of love – and how we can make a difference for good, says Bishop

PUBLISHED: 11:30 24 December 2019

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

© Keith Mindham

Christmas is all about the power of love – an emotion highlighted by a tragic and terrible national event, says Suffolk’s Bishop.

Bishop of Dunwich, The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, with Bishop Martin Seeley sharing some fun with Father Christmas at Wetheringsett parish church coffee morning Picture: KEITH MINDHAMBishop of Dunwich, The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, with Bishop Martin Seeley sharing some fun with Father Christmas at Wetheringsett parish church coffee morning Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, met 30 prisoners at Warren Hill Prison, listening to them sharing their deep pain and grief after their friend and mentor, Jack Merritt, and his colleague Saskia Jones, had been knifed to death in the London Bridge terror attack.

During the last three years Jack had been coming into Warren Hill regularly to work with this group of prisoners.

Bishop Martin said: "The prisoners talked a lot about love. They talked about how grateful they were that Jack from "outside" cared enough to come and help them.

Jack had inspired and encouraged these men in ways that had changed them deeply. Jack loved them and cared about them, and they responded by loving him and by aspiring to be better human beings. As one of them said, "when I get in a fix, I think, 'what would Jack do?'"

Talking about how people reacted to stop the terrorist, one prisoner said: "When loves takes over, you just do what you have to do."

In his Christmas message, Bishop Martin said: "This is no soft easy love. It is the profound love of friend and stranger that makes you prepared even to die to save them.

It is the love in action of those who make themselves vulnerable for the sake of others. And at Christmas we realise once again this is the only way to respond to evil in the world, in whatever form that takes.

"At Christmas we see God's love 'take over and do what he has to do' to show us the power of love to overcome the effects of evil, of selfishness, of hatred, of envy and greed.

He became vulnerable as a baby, to show us the way of love. That vulnerability was horribly clear as he died on the cross, but Christians believe that was not the end, not the end of love.

"And so ever since, when people come to know who he is, and to love him, they too are drawn to live not for themselves but for others, living out of love. And of course many are living lives shaped by love without faith, but responding to that innate human gift of love we all share.

"So Christmas is about the power of love.

"We see once again, in the baby's birth in Bethlehem, what we are made for. We see once again that what makes the world work for good is our care for one another.

"We see once again that love, wanting and working for the best for others, is how we become our best selves.

"Love is God's way, God's only way, and Christmas is God's invitation for love to be our only way too and make a difference in this world for good."

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